The other day, I showered and dressed all pretty, and did my hair, preparing to visit my dear boyfriend. I wore shorts and a nice stop, and my headphones set to my loudest music in preparation of any presumptuous males that had anything to say. You know how they say; women should not dress a certain way and get mad when men take notice. Well, men should similarly not get mad when our headphones blast dubstep too loud for us to hear their idiotic comments.
As I approached my bus stop however, something completely unexpected happened. A man got out of his car, and in a Russian accent asked me the time. The song that was playing at the moment was a little lower than the rest of my playlist, so I was actually able to hear him. Completely oblivious to the fact that this was an advance, I dug my phone out of my bag and told him the time was 5:46 p.m. He proceeded to ask for my name and asked me where I was going. When I told him I was going to visit my boyfriend, he went on to offer me his phone number. I don’t know if he thought I was lying, which as you can already tell I was not; but he also offered to drive me there, despite my saying it was a long trip. Anyone will tell you, Brooklyn to Staten Island is no easy trek. But I brave it in order to keep my relationship in tact.
Pretty soon, I had to run for my bus and left the Russian with hopes that I’d call and in turn leave a record of my number on his phone. I could not help but giggle at how persistent this man was. He seemed to not care at all that I was black and he was white. He seemed to care even less that we were smack dab in the middle of a predominantly Caribbean and West Indian neighborhood. All I could do was think, my, how the times have changed.
You see, as recently as two years ago, there was not a white person to be found in my neighborhood that wasn’t an Orthodox Jew, a cop or a teacher. And even the teachers quickly hop in their cars after school and drive off. They never linger in the streets. Then one day as I got off the train at my stop, I noticed a white woman exiting as well. Another day, it was three white guys who sounded like they were on their way home from work. Then an old co-worker of mine emailed me to say he’d moved into the neighborhood and was curious about what there was to do in Brooklyn. Now white people roam freely, while new stores pop up regularly, including a gym and a BJ’s Wholesale, to complete the gentrification process.
Recently, I laughed as I witnessed a very pretty blonde girl walking down the street with not a care in the world, when just days before, I overheard two black guys on a bus in the same area. When one suggested a stop that would be a shortcut to where the other was going, the other said, “Oh hell no!” Because he thought the area was too dangerous. But the blonde girl clearly didn’t get the memo; she seemed oblivious as to if any danger was around her.
With the races mixing residences, as can be expected comes race mixing of another kind. I see black men and white women together and walking up and town the main roads of my neighborhood on a regular basis. There are also a few black women and white (non-black) men couples. There’s me and my boyfriend, though Hispanic and also now a staple in this area still receives odd looks when we’re together, or when he blasts his rock music in crowded trains. I’ve seen other couples like us out and about. One girl’s white boyfriend saw her to the bus at a major intersection and gave her many kisses before letting her go in. Another time I passed a very pretty black teenage girl, just a few blocks from my home, walking very closely with a fair skinned boy with just enough flair in his look to probably be Hispanic or Italian.
Finally, the Russian guy got me thinking, if white men are moving into black neighborhoods and seeing black girls they find attractive, what’s to stop them from approaching? What’s stopping the Russian from trying to chat up another black girl he sees on her way to the bus? If I were single, maybe he would have actually gotten my number. Previously, the biggest hindrance to black women and white men coupling was distance. Blacks and whites largely did not live and work in the same areas for constant contact. And unlike black men and white women, the media was not drumming up this sweetest taboo persona to make either demographic want to go out of their way to seek each other out for partnership.
However, as I learned in many a psychology class, familiarity breeds likeness. There may be more chance that black women and white men will begin to find each other attractive because they are now more readily available to one another. Maybe, with several attractive and eligible post grads looking toward Brooklyn for snazzy pads that are ever so slightly less expensive than those in Manhattan in order to establish their status, a few of them will have the courage to say “hi” to their pretty black neighbor. Maybe that quirky black girl won’t have to wait until she goes away to college, or lands her dream job with the salary that allows her to move out of her neighborhood, in order to meet her kind of guy.